And Bruno might be onto something.
Vitter's problem is that he painted himself so far into a corner over the years with his denials and hard-line social conservative stances that his credibility has been destroyed. Even high-level state Republicans seemed to acknowledge that fact; consider what major GOP fund-raiser and New Orleanian Boysie Bollinger told reporter John Hill: "We had discussed the exact fact that this bomb could go off any time in the campaign, and it did not," said Bollinger. That's hardly a vigorous defense or the way a friend tries to help someone get the wind back in his sails ' leaving him twisting in the wind is more like it.
The lack of Republican support for Vitter through most of last week was palpable. For three days, there was conspicuous silence from some of the state's top Republicans, including party Chairman Roger Villere and gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal. Finally, last Friday marked a concerted effort by the state Republican Party to circle the wagons and muster some defense for the embattled senator. A number of Republican officials ' including Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery of Shreveport and U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette ' issued non-committal, cautious statements. "David and his family are going through a difficult time, and my thoughts and prayers are with him," said Boustany.
Vitter received stronger backing from the Lafayette Parish Republican Executive Committee. "Senator Vitter has handled his error properly and courageously," said Chairman Mark Gremillion in a statement. "It is the consensus of the Republican Parish Executive Committee that Senator Vitter should continue to serve his constituents of the State of Louisiana."
Politically, the timing is especially damaging for Vitter. While he isn't up for Senate re-election until 2010, his star had been rising in the Republican Party of late thanks to his leadership role in the Republican revolt to defeat President Bush's immigration bill. And Vitter was widely speculated to be angling for the VP slot should former New York mayor Rudy Guiliani win the Republican Party's presidential nomination. Vitter's already angered social conservatives in Louisiana by endorsing the pro-gay rights and pro-choice Giuliani, so his affair revelations are sure to cut into the 42 percent of the Acadiana vote he received in his 2004 win over former U.S. Rep. Chris John.
As a barometer of Vitter's current standing with social conservatives, The Christian Conservatives for Reform, a Metairie-based organization that has long supported Vitter, is joining Bruno in calling for Vitter's resignation. The Rev. Grant Storms, who heads the organization, told the Associated Press, "When Bill Clinton fell ... we said 'resign,' when William Jefferson was indicted we said 'resign.' Now it's one of our people, and we need to be consistent and say, 'David, do the right thing and resign.'"
The once-powerful Louisiana senator finds himself political kryptonite for fellow Republicans. And no one has as much at stake in the Vitter fallout as gubernatorial candidate/U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal. Vitter and Jindal have been close allies since 2003, endorsing each other in every race they've run since then. In February 2007, Jindal issued this statement, which was prominently featured on his Web site:
"I wanted to share some great news with you. This morning, U.S. Senator David Vitter declared his support for our campaign for Governor. David has been a strong leader for our state. It means a lot to have his support at this crucial time.
"David knows all too well that we need strong leadership in Louisiana," continued Jindal. "I have been working closely with David in Washington, D.C. to ensure that our state has all of the resources it needs to move forward. But unless we have strong leadership making the critical decisions on the ground in Louisiana, our state will be unable to advance and compete with other states. ... I am committed to moving our state forward, and I look forward to continuing to work with David to address the real issues facing Louisiana."
Last week, Jindal's Web site was scrubbed clean of every reference to Vitter, including his endorsement. Jindal waited until Friday night to offer a tepid statement regarding Vitter:
"While we are disappointed by Sen. Vitter's actions, Supriya and I continue to keep David and his family in our prayers," Jindal said, referring to his wife. "This is a matter for the senator to address, and it is our hope that this is not used by others for their own political gain."
It won't be easy for Jindal or Vitter to sidestep further questions about Vitter's indiscretions. The senator went into hiding last week and remained silent after his initial statement, while allegations surfaced from the New Orleans madam ' as well as detailed accounts of a woman claiming to be prostitute Wendy Cortez, who gave The Times-Picayune a lengthy, detailed accounting of her relationship with Vitter. (At press time Monday, Vitter made his first public appearance since the scandal broke, saying the New Orleans allegations weren't true. He declined to answer questions from the media.)
Ultimately, Vitter has only one question to answer: will he put party loyalty over family loyalty? Is he willing to put his wife and four school-age children through three more years of uncomfortable questions and media headlines? If he doesn't resign, he'll likely be relegated to a role outside of the spotlight with no legislative pull, dutifully serving out a painful and dull political exile. That doesn't sound like David Vitter.
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
Louisiana's first black Republican state senator since Reconstruction — who was a Republican before he was a Democrat before he was a Republican again — is accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of using the black community for votes and providing nothing in return.
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
Even though the Louisiana Democratic Party has thrown its support behind former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ congressional bid, national Democrats are not expected to follow suit.
“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.